ALEKS KOLKOWSKI / UTE WASSERMANN – Squall Line

Psi

Rarely the extreme fringes of human expression, ornithology and ancient past have sounded as close as they do in Squall Line, fourteen improvisation taped at Whitstable’s St.Peter’s Church in 2009. One wonders what eventual bypassers, after listening to the extraordinary sounds coming from that holy place in mid-July, were thinking. Wassermann’s hard-to-believe straining of the vocal cords – complemented by nose and palate flutes and bird calls – keeps getting more incisive and surprising with the passage of the years. Though technically gifted, there is no way of tracing threadbareness in whatever the German’s throat emits; it is not a contradiction to say that her pitches sound extremely firm in spite of depictions of shapes, “pings” and glides so varying that a voluble analogue synthesizer has nothing on them (unsurprisingly, Thomas Lehn is another frequent partner). Not to mention those scarily husky air intakes. Yet this duo is entirely acoustic, Kolkowski’s contribution on Stroh violin/viola and Edison phonographer eliciting an aura of evolved antiquity that, in conjunction with “renowned” techniques of modern string playing, gives birth to a rare jargon made of ever-mutating liaisons and improbable replicas. The record’s title and Richard Barrett’s liners might imply stormy weather, but the echoes of the neighbourhood – clearly audible through headphones – are ruptured by sheer brilliance like a Manchester sky by unexpected sun rays.

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